Corps, R. E., Gambi, C., & Pickering, M. J.
(2020). How do listeners time response articulation when answering questions? The role of speech rate. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 46(4), 781-802. doi:10.1037/xlm0000759.
During conversation, interlocutors often produce their utterances with little overlap or gap between their turns. But what mechanism underlies this striking ability to time articulation appropriately? In 2 verbal yes/no question-answering experiments, we investigated whether listeners use the speech rate of questions to time articulation of their answers. In Experiment 1, we orthogonally manipulated the speech rate of the context (e.g., Do you have a . . .) and final word (e.g., dog?) of questions using time-compression, so that each component was spoken at the natural rate or twice as a fast. Listeners responded earlier when the context was speeded rather than natural, suggesting they used the speaker’s context rate to time answer articulation. Additionally, listeners responded earlier when the speaker’s final syllable was speeded than natural, regardless of context rate, suggesting they adjusted the timing of articulation after listening to a single syllable produced at a different rate. We replicated this final word effect in Experiment 2, which also showed that our speech rate manipulation did not influence the timing of response preparation. Together, these findings suggest listeners use speech rate information to time articulation when answering questions